Recipe: Mushroom, Balsalmic and Herb Lasagna

So for Good Friday this year I’m headed to a vegan potluck and chocolate making lunch. I was trying to work out what to make and found a pack of dried lasagna noodles in the cupboard, Eureka! One problem… The host of the event doesn’t eat nightshades for health reasons. Nightshades are a family of plants that include tomatoes, capsicums and eggplants. Basically the staples for making lasagna. This is what I came up with.

Mushroom and Balsamic vegetables.

Ingredients:

3 Sticks of Celery, finely diced.
1 Large Carrot, finely diced.
2 Zucchini, finely diced.
500g (17 Ounces) of Mushrooms, chopped, including stems.
1 Small Onion, finely diced.
100g (3.5 Ounces) of Baby Spinach, roughly chopped.
1 Teaspoon of Ginger, minced.
1 Teaspoon of Garlic, minced.
1/2 Cup of Balsamic Vinegar.  I used 3/4 Cup.
1/2 Cup of Water.
1 Tablespoon of Sugar.
Olive Oil.
Salt and Pepper.

Method:

Finely chop Carrot, Celery and Zucchini and set aside in a bowl.

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Finely chopped vegetables

Chop Mushrooms and Spinach and set aside in another bowl. Chop Onion and mince the Ginger and Garlic (I got mine from a jar).

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Chopped mushrooms

Heat up Olive Oil in a large pot and add Onion, Garlic and Ginger. Saute until onion becomes translucent.

Add Celery, Carrot and Zucchini and combine. Cook for 5 minutes then add Mushrooms and Spinach. Cook, stirring occasionally until reduced by half.

Add Balsamic Vinegar, Sugar and Water. Cook until most of the liquid is gone. Add Salt and Pepper to taste.

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Balsamic vegetables

Herbed White Sauce.

Ingredients:

1/4 Cup of Vegan Margarine.
1 Teaspoon of Garlic, minced.
1/4 Cup of Flour.
1 1/2 Cup of Water.
1 1/2 Cup of Soy Milk or other non dairy milk.
1 Vegetable Stock Cube. I used Massel.
3 Tablespoons of Mustard.
1 Tablespoon of Dried Oregano.
1 Tablespoon of Dried Basil.
2 Teaspoons of Lemon Juice.
1 Teaspoon of Sugar.
Rice Flour and Water to thicken. I used Oat Flour.
Salt and Pepper.

Method:

Put Garlic and Margarine in a medium pan on a low heat. Stir ingredients as Margarine melts.

When melted add Flour and stir together to make a roux. Still stirring add Soy Milk and water. Continue stirring until the roux is fully incorporated.

Add the Stock Cube and stir until dissolved. Add Mustard, Oregano, Basil, Lemon Juice and sugar. Stir in.

Mix together equal amounts of Rice Flour and Water then add to the pot. Stir quickly to thicken and when desired consistency is achieved take the pot off the heat.

Taste then add Salt and Pepper as required.

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Herbed white sauce

To Assemble.

 Ingredients:

1 Packet of Dried Lasagna Sheets.
1/2 Cup of Water.
Optional 1/2 Cup of Vegan Cheeze. I used Cheezly Parmesan Style.

Method:

Preheat oven to 180C (350F).

Coat the bottom of a large baking pan with 1/3 of the White Sauce and layer Sheetson top.

Add a 1/2 of the Mushroom Balsamic mix and drip 1/3 of the water over the mix.

Add another layer of Sheets and cover with 1/2 of the remaining White Sauce, drip with 1/3 of the water.

Add Sheets and add the remaining Mushroom Balsamic mix. Drip on the remaining water.

Add final layer of Lasagna Sheets and cover with remaining White Sauce.

Optional. Sprinkle the Vegan Cheeze on top.

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Ready for the oven

Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove foil and bake for a further 20 minutes.

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Baked!

Allow to sit for 10 Minutes and serve.

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Om nom nom

Verdict: It turned out well. The balsamic flavor was a bit too strong and you will note the recommended changes in the ingredients list. The herb flavor was a little lost but hopefully the lessened balsamic should fix that. I’m unsure about the cheese on top, but that may be because I don’t really like Cheezly.
Edit: the lasagna was very well received at the lunch and when eaten cold the balsamic flavor was lessened and the herb flavor was more apparent. I would still use less vinegar when making it again.

Restaurant: Home Grain Bakery

The Home Grain Bakery is located in the town of Aldinga, south of Adelaide. Run by a husband and wife team Home Grain would be a pretty standard country bakery if it were not for the vegan options. Some options are available at all times but Wednesdays are the day to go as they make extra vegan options. They are famous especially for their vegan vanilla slices, so with fingers crossed I hopped on 2 buses and a train to get me some lunch.

The bakery is located on the outskirts of Aldinga and it looks like a bit of a one horse town, however there is apparently more to it. The bakery itself was very busy and smelled very good. There were sadly no vegan vanilla slices available that day so I ordered a vegan sausage roll and a finger bun and was pleasantly surprised to be charged only $6.80.

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Vegan sausage roll

The sausage roll was a disappointment. The filling was very wet, a bit like stew wrapped in pastry. It also had very little flavor and definitely needed the tomato sauce. Unfortunately the girl who served me seemed to think that 4 tiny spots of sauce was sufficient.

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Finger bun

The finger bun was better. The icing had a nice flavor but was too sweet overpowering the bun. My solution? Eat the icing first! The bun itself has a god amount of fruit and had a nice flavor,

Food: Okay but not fantastic. 2.5/5

Setting: quaint country town, the bakery itself was nice but didn’t have enough seating. The bus ride had some nice sea views. 3/5

Service: Awkward. The girl who served me was unsure what items were vegan and offered to butter my bun for me. At least she realized her mistake and we laughed about it. 3/5

Overall: Nothing spectacular however I would go again if I was sure I could get a vegan vanilla slice! 3/5

Update:

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Restaurant: The Green Room

The Green Room is an organic cafe in Willunga; a town south of Adelaide, within the Southern Vales wine growing region. It took me 2 and a half hours, 2 buses and a train to get there.

The cafe is quite large with indoor seating and 2 outside areas. We were sat inside which was nice and homely, slightly ruined by our proximity to the dish washing area. Who knew plates and soap could be so loud!

The menu is all vegetarian with many vegan and gluten free options. I ordered peppermint tea and the lentil and mushroom pie.

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Peppermint tea

The tea was… well tea. Good quality but nothing special though I was annoyed that we were the only table without a sugar bowl. Also that teapot is really ugly. 🙂

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Lentil and mushroom pie with salad and tomato relish

The main dish was interesting. The salad was fresh and I liked the addition of lightly pickled onion, however I found the dressing to be a tad oily. The pastry of the pie was wonderful, thin and flavorsome. The filling was nice but odd. Expecting a gravy I was confused to find that the pie was tomato flavored. It still tasted good but the mushrooms were completely lost. The tomato relish was very vinegary but when mixed with the rich pie filling it worked.

Food: Tasty and filling. 3.5/5

Setting: The interior was nice but a bit noisy. Outside however was lovely and green! 3.5/5

Service: Polite, efficent, no issues. 4.5/5

Overall: A nice cafe with good food in a fabulous location. Whats not to love? 4/5

The Green Room on High Street on Urbanspoon

Restaurant: Fair Espresso

So I was walking down James Place off Rundle Mall today looking for somewhere to have lunch and I spotted a sign. “Vegan Toastie $7.50.” Well okay then.

Fair Espresso started as a coffee cart for local events and recently has evolved into a small cafe in the Adelaide CBD. As the name suggests they serve fairtrade coffee. They also use organic produce wherever possible.

I ordered the vegan toastie and an iced long black for a total of $12! The server was very happy to tell me about the single origin coffee (yawn) but fortunately he didn’t go on about it too long.

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Iced Long Black

The coffee, which despite my dining in was served in a take away container, was actually quite nice. I’m not a huge fan of black coffee and was quite sour upon first sip but after I added some natvia it tasted okay.

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Vegan Toastie

The toastie was dark rye bread with caramelized onions, rocket and tomato. I love dark rye bread on toasties so I was thrilled when the dish came out. I was less thrilled when I discovered a little bit of melted cheese from some previous toastie stuck to the bread.

I was worried that the filling would be too sweet with out a salty element. It was sweet but not unbearably so. It was however rather peppery and not just from the rocket. Overall it was quite nice.

An alright meal at a good price but was spoiled by one thing. This:

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Dafuq!

This is painted on the wall near the back of the cafe, right where I was sitting. Other than being anatomically incorrect and downright creepy I feel that it rather calls into question the cafes vegan friendliness.

Food: Not bad but nothing spectacular. 2.5/5

Setting: Lots of wood and the usual fairtrade hipster decor. Would be quite nice if I wasn’t able to see a certain wall. 1/5

Service: Fine though the servers seemed unable to read the table numbers properly. 4/5

Overall: Between the cross contamination issues and the disturbing mutant cow painting this isn’t somewhere I would go again. 2/5

Fair Espresso on Urbanspoon